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Look Inside History and Illusion in Politics

History and Illusion in Politics

  • Date Published: June 2001
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521805964


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About the Authors
  • The distinguished political philosopher Raymond Geuss examines critically some of the most widely held and important preconceptions about contemporary politics held in advanced Western societies. In a series of analytically focused chapters Dr Geuss discusses the state, authority, violence and coercion, the concept of legitimacy, liberalism, toleration, freedom, democracy, and human rights. He argues that the liberal democratic state committed to the defense of human rights is a historically contingent conjunction of disparate elements that do not fit together coherently. One of Geuss's most striking claims is that it makes sense to speak of rights only relative to a mechanism for enforcing them, and that therefore the whole concept of a 'human right', as it is commonly used in contemporary political philosophy, is a confusion. This is a profound and concise essay on the basic structure of contemporary politics, written throughout in a voice that is sceptical, engaged, and clear.

    • Assesses the major issues of political philosophy in clear, non-technical language
    • Sceptical of much received political wisdom, and assesses both the logic, and the history, of political thought
    • Extensively classroom-tested in lecture courses in the UK, USA and Germany
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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2001
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521805964
    • length: 184 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.44kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The State:
    1.1 Political associations
    1.2 Violence, coercion, and power
    1.3 The concept of the state
    1.4 The concept of legitimacy
    1.5 Authority
    1.6 Weber's 'modern' state
    1.7 History and the concept of the state
    1.8 Anarchy and the state
    1.9 The legitimacy of the state
    Part II. Liberalism:
    2.1 The context
    2.2 Toleration
    2.3 Freedom
    2.4 Individualism
    2.5 Limited, unlimited, and discretionary power
    Part III. Democracy and Rights:
    3.1 Democracy: description and interpretation
    3.2 Democracy: evaluation
    3.3 Popular control and the state
    3.4 Legal rights
    3.5 Human rights
    3.6 Rights and politics
    4. Conclusion

  • Author

    Raymond Geuss, University of Cambridge
    Raymond Geuss is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge. He has taught widely in Germany and the United States, and has been an editor of the series of Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought since its inception. His previous books include The Idea of a Critical Theory (Cambridge, 1981, ISBN 0521 284228), Morality, Culture, and History (Cambridge, 1999, ISBN 0 521 635683), and Public Goods, Private Goods (Princeton, 2001). He has also published a collection of classical verse in his own English translations, Parrots, Poets, and Philosophers & Good Advice (London, 1999).

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